Fr. Phillips of @SJCantius will NOT be allowed to return to public ministry after he was exonerated

Yesterday I posted that Fr. Frank Phillips who founded the Canons of St. John Cantius in Chicago, who had been accused of immoral behavior and suspended pended an investigation by a board, had been exonerated of all charges.

The board issued a letter.

I wrote, in an update to that post, that people in the Chicago would not make a mistake to attend Sunday Masses this weekend.

That’s because after I heard about the exoneration by the board that had been appointed, I learned that the Cardinal Archbishop decided not to go with the board’s decision and that he required the following to be printed and inserted in the parish bulletin for Masses this weekend.  Until it was released publicly, I didn’t want to post anything.

The letter is now out.

The letter is from the Congregation of the Resurrection (“Resurrectionists”), to which Fr. Phillips belongs.

Nutshell: The review board came to a decision: “Fr. Phillips has not violated any secular criminal, civil or canon law.”

However, in the letter below Fr. Phillip’s superior wrote:

“We accept the Archdiocese’s decision that Fr. Phillips’ faculties for public ministry will remain withdrawn and that he not return as pastor of St John Cantius and as Superior of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius.”

Hence, although they determined that he didn’t violate any laws, his faculties will not be returned and he has been removed from his offices anyway.

If you choose to attend Mass at St. John Cantius on Sunday, be mindful that there will probably be media there, given this controversy, and the newsies may want reactions from people as they leave Mass.  Not everyone wants to get involved with that.

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57 Responses to Fr. Phillips of @SJCantius will NOT be allowed to return to public ministry after he was exonerated

  1. jameeka says:

    Maybe now is the time for the laity to speak up.

    As Archbishop Schneider says in a recent speech:
    ‘ “But we have the Faith!” the bishop exclaims.

    “You have the power, but we have the Faith.” That is what the simple faithful can say to those in power, says Bishop Schneider. “We are richer and more powerful.” ‘

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  3. Joy65 says:

    Well God has His reasons and He may be preparing for something even better for him. Praying for this Priest and all those who were in his Parish. God’s will be done.

  4. RichR says:

    If he does not have faculties in the Archdiocese of Chicago, yet he is a religious priest under his religious congregation, could another diocese receive him?

    [Technically, yes.]

  5. Rob83 says:

    I would be interested in the Cardinal’s explanation for his decision, it does not seem logical that a priest would not be given any avenue to having faculties restored due to an accusation that ultimately proved unfounded. As this letter comes from the Congregation and not the Cardinal, I suspect no such explanation will be forthcoming.

  6. Hb says:

    Shameful but not surprising.

  7. ChrisP says:

    This may change in time. But one does not hold one’s breath with Cupich in power. Prayers for both Fr Phillips and Archbp. Cupich. May sanity prevail.

  8. ProfKwasniewski says:

    So typical. It was all a set-up to begin with, to remove one of the humblest and most dedicated workers for the Restoration of the Sacred. May God reward a thousandfold His servants and punish His enemies.

  9. FrAnt says:

    Now that makes it easy to remove a priest you don’t like. Have someone make a false accusation against a priest and he’s out. Doesn’t need to go to civil court, just the bishop. I also find it interesting that Father’s head was handed over on a silver platter on the Nativity of John the Baptist.

  10. LeeGilbert says:

    Surely this is a huge test for Fr. Philips and Canons Regular of St. John Cantius. If they accept it as if it came from God Himself, they are in the way of untold future blessings. If they react rather with resentment, churlishness , outrage, that is if they act naturally as practically anyone would, they will miss the opportunity the Lord is giving them. As Padre Pio put it, and surely he was in a position to know, it is a game of love. However, I doubt very much that Fr. Philips and the canons will react as if this were a natural, political event.

    Surely, is an opportunity for Fr. Philips and the Canons regular of St. John Cantius to enter more deeply into the fruitful and surprising dynamic of the Paschal mystery, whose entrance way is obedience. “As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” (James 5:10-11).

    And we should support them in approaching this apparent calamity with equanimity, prayer and hope. However, tomorrow I fully expect to find in the traditional Catholic commentariat many references to the Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago by his last name only, together with a great deal of scurrilous innuendo. Understandable as this is, it is not only a great mistake, but a true scandal, a stumbling block that we are tempted put in the way of brothers who are being offered an opportunity in the Lord.

    Someone should write a book celebrating the lives of saintly founders who have been kicked out of the orders they founded, which has practically happened to Fr. Philips. It happened to St. Alphsonus Ligouri, founder of the Redemptorists, to Basil Moreau, the founder of the Holy Cross Fathers and to many others. It is practically a stamp of divine approval, as were the disasters that happened to Job, to St. Theresa, to Our Lord.

    If we saw things in their proper perspective, would we not rather be inclined to rejoice that Providence is ushering Fr. Philips and the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius toward a great victory? This is the Agony in the Garden, or perhaps the Crucifixion, but surely not the end of the story. In the meantime, “a troubled mind and a contrite heart are a sacrifice to you, O Lord.”

    One could say, too, that this scenario is emblematic of the situation of the entire Church at the moment. Many of the faithful are in great distress, and injustice seems to have full sway. As it was with Job, though, this is a time for extreme circumspection in what we say and think.

    As noted above, Padre Pio went through a period of testing similar to that which has been imposed on Father Philips. Of no one else have I ever encountered the expression-as I did in a biography of Padre Pio- that his eyes were “blazing with hope.” So should our eyes be, in this darkness just before dawn.

  11. excalibur says:

    Who is surprised that this Cardinal Archbishop took this route?

    And now the chopping down of the parish begins in earnest.

  12. HvonBlumenthal says:

    Does canon law permit the Archiocese to withdraw faculties without cause?

  13. Eugene says:

    Father if I was to post what I really thought about Cupich and this action I would be banned from your website.
    May the “prince” get the reward he deserves from Almighty God for this disgusting action.
    What I have been asking since March 2013 – How long O Lord?
    Prayers for Fr Phillips.
    But by all means princes of the church keep promoting Fr Martin SJ as he is way more faithful than Fr Phillips, Fr Weinandy, Padre Minutella, Dr Joseph Galat, Prof Josef Seifert. I just want to puke.

  14. John Grammaticus says:

    So the good Father is not guilty, but kinda guilty and he’ll won’t be allowed to be a Priest in public. I think that His Eminence the Cardinal Archbishop needs a primer on the concept of justice as he was clearly asleep in class the days it was covered in seminary and CCD.

  15. The Egyptian says:

    “Fr. Phillips of @SJCantius will NOT be allowed to return to public ministry after he was exonerated”

    “Concerning Card. McCarrick”

    I believe your juxtaposition of headline says it all

    sad day for the truly faithful priests in this country and the church

  16. Gil Garza says:

    Pharoah has spoken. It is a surprise to nobody. The wise among you must be ready for what comes next. I expect Pharaoh to flip the parish. The parish must tighten their belts and be ready.

    Now is the opportunity to plant new congregations and perhaps a new foundation for the training of ministers with a Godly bishop who fears the Lord. There are many. Take what you need and begin training others to found scores parishes like St. John Cantius throughout the land. The laity are ready and will receive you with open arms and tears of joy.

    The Lord will deal with Pharaoh. The Lord isn’t mocked. Leave Pharaoh behind and push forward!

  17. rwj says:

    There should really be clarification from the Archbishop as to his reasons. Could it be that he did not break any canon or civil laws, but has done something else immoral or unsavory? Perhaps a canonist will opine. Otherwise there will be rampant speculations offered as to his reasons, which may be worse than the real reasons.

    Given the conclusion of the board of review, I can’t imagine whatever the problem with Fr. Phillips is can be worse than what Cardinal McCarrick was already known to have done BEFORE the accusations of child abuse– And McCarrick would have been happily welcomed to minister in the Chicago diocese up until last week.

  18. Mike says:

    That “receiving support” in the letter has me scratching my head a bit. It would not, however, seem to diminish the Cardinal’s responsibility explicitly to restore Fr. Phillips’ good name, which as matters stand remains under something of a cloud.

  19. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    There is, evidently, a shortage of priestless parishes?

  20. Ave Maria says:

    This is a time of crisis in the Church, long planned. And so it is a time of trial. We recall that SAINT Padre Pio was removed from public ministry for about 10 years and I don’t think he was ever allowed to write to spiritual children again.
    And as Lee Gilbert noted: Someone should write a book celebrating the lives of saintly founders who have been kicked out of the orders they founded, which has practically happened to Fr. Philips. It happened to St. Alphsonus Ligouri, founder of the Redemptorists, to Basil Moreau, the founder of the Holy Cross Fathers and to many others.

    Yes, and like Fr. Stefano Manelli of the Franciscans of the Immaculate who was removed by the pope back in 2013 with no true reasons given and now in civil courts is being exonerated for every calumny against him. This happens to many holy ones. It happened to St. Mary Mackillop and St. Jeanne Jugan and many others for many reasons. When these unjust persecutions come–from within the Church–they are particularly painful but in the end will grant many blessings to those who bear these wrongs patiently and their Orders will blossom.

  21. Caesar says:

    I had the good fortune to be able to attend a conference last October put on by the Catholic Art Guild and hosted by Fr Phillips and St John Cantius. During his speech following the dinner he spoke of how the Canons and parish of St John Cantius- their exceptional music programs, their commitment to genuine Catholic art and apostolate in restoring the sacred- are no longer dependent on him, but now have a life and momentum of their own and will survive him. I really hope and pray this is true. St John Cantius should serve as a model for all other parishes who wish to restore the sense of the sacred to their ritual and communities.

  22. Kathleen10 says:

    This is an outrage, and an obvious political hit.
    The minions are no longer concealing their animus cautiously, they make it crystal clear. And why not, they have acted with impunity, they know there are none to question them or confront them, so what have they to lose? They grow bolder by the day, as children do when they are naughty and unimpeded.
    I do not belong to that diocese. If I did, I would want an explanation.

  23. Dismas says:

    A psalm comes to mind – “Super flumina Babylonis illic sedimus et flevimus, cum recordaremur Sion…” I remember how it ends too.

    Queuing Palestrina.

  24. Gregg the Obscure says:

    “Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven. For so they persecuted the prophets that were before you.”

    Fr. Phillips is in good company. St. Pio, St. Faustina, and many others in religious life have faced humiliations at the hands of ecclesiastical authorities.

  25. Amerikaner says:

    Can he file with a canon lawyer to eventually undo the Cardinal’s position?

  26. Paliakas1 says:

    There was no media at the 7:30 mass. Father Thelander said mass. During announcements all that was said was to note the letter that was included in the bulletin.

    As a long time parishioner I am expecting the worst as the Canon’s and Father Phillips’ work is dismantled by Cupich. The next big decision is who will be made permanent leader of both the parish and the Canons. If the leader comes from within then we maybe we are safe. However, if a Cupich priest is brought in then it will be a slow but painful destruction of St. John Cantius and all it stands for.
    I fell bad for the young men from across North America that came to be Canons, but are now just priests of Chicago. For those in the process of studying for the priesthood I would delay taking any vows until I knew what was going to happen. It would be easier to transfer other orders or geographies if they were still laity.

  27. anna 6 says:

    Why is there no mention in this letter that the priest has been exonerated?
    If I recieved this letter I would have assumed that he was found guilty based on the decision of the archbishop.

  28. fuquaysteve says:

    I am confused…I thought mercy was at the core of the heirarchy of the Church.

  29. bobbird says:

    A tough call … I have been tempted to embarrass bishops by picketing the chancery. We have done it at “Catholic” hospitals that violate medical ethics too numerous to list here, and only after years of chancery temporizing. And we have handed out leaflets explaining the bishops’ duplicity and it hit them HARD. Advice about being meek might apply to clerics, but the laity have often had to SPEAK UP and resist. This has been done with other heresies in the past. Remember, the REAL targets are NOT the good and faithful clerics … it is US, the LAITY, for without their ministry souls are in peril. Are we to dry up and shrivel without a fight? Advice for the laity in this regard would be appreciated.

  30. Eoin OBolguidhir says:

    No one should be surprised. My offering from March:

    “Don’t be naïve. It will not be quick. The PROCESS is the PUNISHMENT. Guilty or innocent’s got nothing to do with it. He’s toast. He’ll never be back. Things like this only move forward when everything is in place, and the outcome is a done deal. It’s the Chicago Way. Unlike Bernadin under similar circumstances, he’s not top dog, and he won’t be allowed to start fighting until after the final bell is rung. Ding Ding. Hey what’s that? It’s over. Going away to the Ressurectionists was as good as it could get for him. He might as well be named Fr. Frank Pentangeli. Take a bath, Franky-Five-Angels, and your Canonry will be taken care of. You might think this is hyperbole, but don’t be so sure.”

    In retrospect, the judgement was quite rapid. Was that because of his being obviously innocent, or because of some ecclesiastical behind the scenes deal making, or both? Who is to say? Father Phillips was never going to get a fair shake. Unlike McCarrick, in whose sins many participated by silence, by concealment, and by flattery, who was made a cardinal and who was protected, Father Phillips never offered the Church anything but vocations, orthodoxy, truth, and beauty, which is to say a lot of things that strangely seem to make modernists angry. Also unlike McCarrick – did I read somewhere that he heard the confessions of his victims, or that he abused young men in the confessional? – Father Frank is still a priest in good standing with his own community and should still have faculties to hear confessions and say Mass in Resurrectionist convents. Knowing of him (a very little), I’m sure he is praying for his persecutors with all the love of Christ on the Cross, so there is hope for them yet.

  31. Ages says:

    The letter doesn’t even say that he was exonerated; in fact it implies the opposite.

  32. The Astronomer says:

    St. Padre Pio had the notorious Abp. Gagliardi unjustly persecute him.

    Fr. Philips has Cardinal Cupich.

    ’nuff said.

  33. LeoWong says:

    Unlike Fr. Phillips and Padre Pio, we who haven’t been given orders needn’t be quiet. “Someone should write a book.” Meanwhile, the stones will cry out.

  34. John Grammaticus says:

    Upon reflection there are many things that I could say about Cadinal Cupich that cannot be printed, suffice to say that his public actions can only lead me to conclude that he does not pass the Good Shepherd test.

    I honestly cannot believe how anyone can hate the Sacred Patrimony of the Church. I am a former atheist and before I converted ten years ago I had always admired the Art and Music of the Church; from Mozart’s Dies Irae to the Sistine Chapel. Furthermore I cannot understand why (a) anyone could hate a congregation that brings vocations (to any state), converts and beauty to the life of the Church and (b) would hang a Priest out to dry even after exoneration, clearly somebody cares more for the plaudits of the world than of God.

  35. Benedict Joseph says:

    Not in the least surprised by this — his exoneration or the fact that he remains in the dock, there surely is a brutal irony that a priest cleared of charges endures marginalization, while a bishop credibly accused of concubinage is to be elevated to the College of Cardinals this week.
    Such a situation in itself transcends in gravity the more gross and common moral lapses we have unfortunately come to expect — and contextualizes the circumstances from which they have emerged.
    Beyond all the theological disputes being waged — we have even graver problems in the realm of human relations, adult comportment and the exercise of professional responsibility.
    Malevolent governance has for far too long been veiled with an appeal to a fraudulent humility. The admonishing a humble response to a grievous injustice perpetuates it and it is simply wrong. The truth need be brought to bear.
    Romper Room Catholicism is no substitute for the one true Church established by Jesus Christ.

  36. bobbird says:

    And is this quote correct? When sent mighty sufferings, St. Theresa of Avila asked the Lord, “Why?” And the answer was, “I only send these crosses to my closest friends.” And her reply was “No wonder you have so few of them, Lord.”

  37. Catholic Roman says:

    There is neither joy nor love in the way Fr. Phillips has been treated by a prelate who is considered world expert on proper interpretation of the Joy of Love (aka Amoris Laetitia) .

  38. revueltos67 says:

    “There should really be clarification from the Archbishop as to his reasons.”
    Clarification:
    “I am the cardinal archbishop, I do not need to give reasons for any of my decisions. I have decided that he has to leave and he has to leave.”

  39. TonyO says:

    I am no canon lawyer, but as far as I know the bishop ordinary of a diocese does not have to give a reason for refusing to grant faculties to a priest to begin with, or failing to grant a pastorship to a priest. However, I thought that under canon law an existing pastor had certain rights that had to be observed. If a pastor is placed under suspension of faculties during an investigation, one presumes that both his faculties for hearing confessions (and blessing weddings) and his authority as pastor are automatically restored upon the end of the investigation at finding no cause. Otherwise pastors’ protections of pastoral authority under canon law would be meaningless.

    Even if the ordinary can (has the power to) remove a pastor without cause and without explanation, that does not imply he can do so without violating charity. It is owed under charity to both the pastor and to the faithful to give the reason. The presumption is that a pastorship is a stable office, which implies having a reason to remove someone. It can’t be at whim.

    The Congregation “accepts” the diocese’s decision to keep Fr. Phillips out of the pastor’s office, but in no wise indicates approval or consent at this. The Congregation does not have the power to approve or withhold consent of the cardinal’s decision – it’s not their decision. However, it is normal, when a Congregation has the care of a parish, for the Congregation to provide a nominee as a new pastor to replace the prior one, who will then be accepted or not by the ordinary. So, has the Congregation supplied a replacement? Has the cardinal accepted him?

    I wish to offer a suggested distinction to those who point out that by being made to suffer an injustice, Fr. Phillips will presumably be in a position to gain greater glory for God (and perhaps to strengthen his spiritual abilities). While we must always be aware that God will indeed allow unjust chastisements to His elect, and we can (as the Apostle tells us) rejoice always, even when we are persecuted, still, we cannot take joy in an injustice per se. Nor are we obliged to rejoice in a chastisement yet to come which God has not yet allowed, for doing so implies an attitude that does not sufficiently repudiate evil, nor sufficiently hope that your fellow men will rise above temptation and avoid imposing an injustice. In this case, we should actively hope that Card. Cupich will in future acts overcome temptations and deal with Fr. Phillips justly and charitably – even if Fr. Phillips gains no extra merit or glory for God thereby. We cannot take satisfaction in the prospect of Card. Cupich dealing unjustly with a pastor.

    As for the possibility of Catholics (of whatever stripe) speaking poorly of Cardinal Cupich: good Catholics should always avoid the sins of speech, which include not only lies, but also detraction, calumny, and gossip. On the other hand, though, Canon Law explicitly provides for the possibility that good, upright, responsible Catholics will perceive, in the actions of a pastor or bishop, behavior which justly loses his good reputation with them. (See canon 1741 article 3). This can even be in cases where the cleric is not accused of direct, outright crimes or violations of Canon Law, such as if he abuses his authority. Hence, if Catholics speak of a cleric who has lost his good reputation by his public actions and words, and they manifest that they justly hold him in ill-repute on that account, they do not thereby sin.

    Cardinal Cupich’s own actions and words in support of heterodox views on gay marriage, and in support of liturgical shenanigans, and his publicly manifested disgust of Catholics who love the EF, are just reasons for good Catholics to not esteem his reputation, but the reverse. This does not mean that good Catholics can treat him uncharitably, no: all persons should be treated with charity. But charity does not mean treating a man who justly bears a bad reputation as if he had a good reputation.

  40. LeeGilbert says:

    This decision by His Eminence Cardinal Cupich and the reaction here and elsewhere throughout the Catholic blogsphere seem like a reprise of life in the Church for the past five years. Perhaps we will keep on going through the same thing till we finally discern the pattern and discover the means of escape. Yes, fratres, “the beatings will continue until morale improves.”

    While I won’t pretend to be anything like a Scripture scholar- not here, anyway-I did get a masters in the subject a few years ago, a fact I only mention by way of saying how striking to me is the lack of scriptural perspective in so much of the thinking that this incident has provoked. We (meaning the traditional commentariat), moi included of course, tend to view everything through a political lens. The rhetoric is often very worldly and passions run high, so when with some effort and going counter to my own inclinations, I endeavor above to frame things in a Scriptural perspective, that analysis is apt to strike one, even me, as rather airy-fairy. This, however, is simply an indication of being out of touch with Reality, of being permeated with a worldly outlook, of having spent one’s life being instructed by demons through the mass media. A few minutes with Drudge is enough to secularize one considerably and to make the scriptural perspective seem very weak tea, indeed.

    Yet, on another blog Leo Wong writes relative to this decision, “The woman taken in adultery might have accepted being stoned and become a saint, but Jesus intervened.”

    Exactly. The same thing may well happen when His anointed shepherd is surrounded by a hostile crowd, the traditional commentariat. It is no longer a question of who will throw the first stone, for the stones are flying.

    Still, looking at His Eminence’s decision scripturally, is he not obliged “to test all things and hold fast to what is good”? Who more than our shepherds have that obligation? And what better test is there than obedience? To us, of course, the parochial life of St. John Cantius is manifestly good, but since the cardinal does not share our enthusiasm for recovering the tradition, and probably suspects it as being retrograde and counter-productive, it is perfectly sensible- from his standpoint- not only to test it but to endeavor to suppress it. This is objectively wrong and maddening, but may well be something he feels morally obligated to do. Is not this the ethos of Pope Francis as well?

    In this case, on whose side is Our Lord likely to intervene? It will not be on the side of the protestors, but on the side of the prelate caught in the very act of being pastoral (according to his own lights).

    Look at how David treated Saul, showing him every deference, not because Saul was morally upright and correct, not because he was friendly to David, but simply and only because he was the anointed of the Lord. He even avenged his death on this very account, for the Amelkite who killed Saul had not feared to kill the anointed of the Lord, yet Saul had been avid to obtain the death of David.

    That David knew what he was about is shown in the fact that he himself was raised to the kingship and became the anointed of the Lord.

    We (too many of us), however, tend to think that somehow murmuring against the Archbishop will move the cause of the Church and of the Canons Regular and Fr. Philip. Given His Eminence’s putative mindset, how likely is he to reverse his decision were he to read what is being said about him in the traditional blogsphere? We (too many of us) are failing the test on behalf of Fr. Philips and the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius. We have become like Shimei following David ( now the Lord’s anointed) out of Jerusalem, cursing him and throwing stones at him. There is no blessing in it. It has no possibility of accomplishing anything good, least of all for Fr. Philips and the canons.

  41. Antonin says:

    @ Ages

    CORRECT

  42. Charivari Rob says:

    It’s hard to make out, especially since there has been no direct public statement from the Archdiocese.

    The few places I’ve read about it so far, a majority of the people moved to comment seem quite ready – even predisposed – to believe it’s some sort of vindictive ulterior motive on the part of the archbishop. Perhaps it is.

    Without knowledge of the facts of the matter, however, there would be as much basis (and as little charity & prudence) to assume that Father Phillips was not guilty of the specific charge but that the inquiry revealed some other risky or stupid behavior that is trouble waiting to happen.

  43. Fr.JP says:

    No law transgressed but no faculties. Could be that he was doing things which were suspicious…and while not technically breaking any law, they have deemed him to be dangerous, unsuitable, unsafe, a risk etc. He could have “issues”. Has anyone considered this?

  44. maternalView says:

    As to whether other questionable issues may have came to light, would it not have been better and even more kind to the parishioners to perhaps simply said Father will remain with his order for reflection, decernment, and spiritual study?

    To say he broke no laws but to announce he has no faculties creates an opportunity for speculation and causes pain. The Cardinal out of mercy should have endeavored to avoid this among the faithful.

    We’re not children. We can be spoken to as adults while still maintaining privacy and confidentiality of the involved parties.

  45. timpr says:

    Fr. Phillips is a very holy priest who has fallen victim to a great injustice. Countless priests have been falsely accused of wrongdoing when they were innocent of the accusations made against them. I could write a book about this subject since I know it so well from experience. Even after exoneration, priests are sometimes treated as though they were found guilty of misdeeds. This is completely un-Christian and reflects badly upon the Church which should champion both justice and mercy. I pray that Fr. Phillips will receive strength from the Lord to carry his heavy cross during this time of distress. It seems that many of the holiest priests of our time face the greatest persecution from superiors who should know better than to inflict such cruelty upon their most fruitful shepherds. Great will be the reward for servants like Fr. Phillips who walk in the very footsteps of Christ.

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  47. TonyO says:

    No law transgressed but no faculties. Could be that he was doing things which were suspicious…and while not technically breaking any law, they have deemed him to be dangerous, unsuitable, unsafe, a risk etc. He could have “issues”. Has anyone considered this?

    I, at least, did consider this. I also assume that Card. Cupich gave clear and explicit instructions to the investigators as to what he wanted them to investigate. And that when the investigators came to conclusions regarding the questions they were instructed to investigate, that they would communicate their answers to Card. Cupich’s questions.. If Cardinal Cupich wanted them to investigate and make determinations on whether Fr. Phillips had done something dangerous, unsuitable, a risk, etc, then they should have communicated their determinations on those questions. And if they did not answer those questions, then presumably that’s because they were not asked to deal with those questions, and doing so was beyond the scope of their assignment.

    There is SUPPOSED TO BE a carefulness and a precision to these things. The Cardinal is supposed to appoint investigators who are seasoned, responsible, and experienced in these things. They are supposed to know the difference between a completely pro-forma whitewash like “well, we looked into things (for 15 minutes) and didn’t find anything”, and a witch-hunt out to find anything at all that might be damaging to someone’s reputation, and a proper investigation that pursues the proper course and adheres to just and reasonable methods to uncover any REAL evidence in support of the _specific_ accusations made. And then they are supposed to know how to put their findings into a document that clarifies why they came to the determination they did, with a summary that answers for the specific matters the Cardinal asked them to determine.

    This is all well known to experienced persons who have seen the 3-ring circuses and the politically motivated investigations and the whitewashes meant to exonerate regardless of the evidence, and who are determined to avoid the games and do it right. If the Cardinal appointed the right kind of men and women to investigate, then the answer he got is the answer to the questions he asked of them. And if they were the right kind of people, they would not have issued (or allowed to be “leaked”) a badly misleading partial statement that ONLY references one half of their findings (no illegal activity) and is completely silent about another half that (maybe, hypothetically, just for the sake of considering) might have gone on to lay out some wrongdoing, or serious evidence of wrongdoing, that doesn’t arise to the level of explicit violations of laws (secular or canonical). Such a badly misleading statement would be an offense against the virtue of truth and a violation of charity.

    So, on the assumption (required by charity, until we have facts that show otherwise) that (a) Cardinal Cupich appointed the right kind of people to investigate, and (b) they did their job properly, and (c) that they reported on their work properly, then WE HAVE NO REASON TO ACTIVELY WONDER if Fr. Phillips might have done things that are worthy of being removed as pastor even if not technically illegal. Yes, the possibility exists. No, we have no reason to wander down that road. Not, at least, unless the diocese issues additional “facts” or more information. So, it’s up to the diocese – up to the Cardinal – to be forthcoming and EXPLAIN their decisions regarding Fr. Phillips. Silence cannot explain removing a pastor. The obligation to explain at least in part exceeds the individual priest’s right to “privacy” regarding his personal failings: personal failings cease to be entirely private when they become the reasons for being removed as the pastor. See this well-balanced article on the delicate balancing act:

    https://www.ewtn.com/library/PRIESTS/ZREMTRAN.HTM

    Compare the charitable behavior described in that article for when a pastor must be removed, to what has gone on here.

  48. Gregg the Obscure says:

    One wonders about the degree to which Fr. Phillips’ fate is influenced by recent news about Cardinal McCarrick and the allegation that another current Cardinal knew about Cardinal McCarrick’s acts and did nothing

  49. Fr. Kelly says:

    The scandalous character of this decision to withhold faculties from Fr. Phillips after the investigation found him innocent of the things he was accused of can be seen from the comments on this blog.

    John Grammaticus says: So the good Father is not guilty, but kinda guilty…
    rwj says: Could it be that he did not break any canon or civil laws, but has done something else immoral or unsavory? …
    Mike says: … the Cardinal’s responsibility explicitly to restore Fr. Phillips’ good name, which as matters stand remains under something of a cloud.
    anna 6 says: Why is there no mention in this letter that the priest has been exonerated?
    If I recieved this letter I would have assumed that he was found guilty based on the decision of the archbishop.
    Ages says: The letter doesn’t even say that he was exonerated; in fact it implies the opposite
    Charivari Rob says: It’s hard to make out, especially since there has been no direct public statement from the Archdiocese.
    The few places I’ve read about it so far, a majority of the people moved to comment seem quite ready – even predisposed – to believe it’s some sort of vindictive ulterior motive on the part of the archbishop. Perhaps it is.
    Without knowledge of the facts of the matter, however, there would be as much basis (and as little charity & prudence) to assume that Father Phillips was not guilty of the specific charge but that the inquiry revealed some other risky or stupid behavior that is trouble waiting to happen.
    Fr.JP says: No law transgressed but no faculties. Could be that he was doing things which were suspicious…and while not technically breaking any law, they have deemed him to be dangerous, unsuitable, unsafe, a risk etc. He could have “issues”. Has anyone considered this?

    My confidence in Fr. Phillips innocence comes from long years of knowledge of him — from the very beginning of his time at St. John Cantius. I suspect many of this blogs readers have known him at least this long. The allegations made against him are not only false. They are preposterous and the fact that the Resurrectionists’ investigation exonerated him is more a testimony to them than to Fr. Phillips.

    For Robert Chivari and FrJP, both of whom admit they are ignorant of this case, to suggest these scurrilous things of such a patient and holy priest is reprehensible.

    This morning’s Gospel warns us to “judge not let ye be judged” When those charged with his judgment in the face of evidence were unable to condemn him, why should you take it opon yourselves, without evidence to condemn him?

  50. SomeCatholicDude says:

    I attended Mass yesterday at St. Peter, one of the Canons’ other parishes, and there wasn’t an announcement or note in the bulletin. But, it was the celebration for the 150th anniversary of the parish that weekend, so maybe they are waiting until next Sunday for the bad news.

  51. Charivari Rob says:

    Fr. Kelly, I made no such suggestion.

    Please re-ead carefully.

    While acknowledging the possibility that a bishop could be petty/vindictive/etc… as some commenters are suggesting of Cardinal Cupich – I pointed out that there could be matters of potential concern not related to the charge or Father Phillips’ guilt or innocence but which were discovered in the course of the investigation, in light of which the Cardinal’s actions would be understood as prudent and charitable. *

    Further, I pointed out that in the absence of the facts, there is as much (which is to say, “as little”) basis, charity, or prudence to assume the one as there is to assume the other.

    *(What I did not say (didn’t think I needed to say) was that there are many such potential matters where prudence and charity do not include the Cardinal explaining it further to the general public because it’s none of our business)

  52. Titus says:

    Where is the statement of findings or conclusions from the CSSR panel saying that they found he hadn’t done anything wrong? All we have via the links is the press release from Protect Our Priests. It would be nice to have it from the horse’s mouth.

  53. Matt C. Abbott says:

    Father Gene Szarek has not responded to my email asking him if the Protect our Priests statement was/is indeed accurate and what the actual findings of the review board were. POP is not affiliated with the Resurrectionists, the archdiocese or the Canons Regular. The POP exoneration statement was not posted at the parish’s website, whereas the letter signed by Father Szarek is.

    What to make of this? I’m not sure yet, but the whole situation did not seem to be handled well, from the top on down.

  54. Fr_Sotelo says:

    TonyO,

    You wrote, “personal failings cease to be entirely private when they become the reasons for being removed as the pastor.” Having been familiar with various cases of priests who have been removed from ministry, and later deprived of the office of pastor, I must disagree with your words here. First, the Catholic archdiocese is bound to all labor laws of the state of Illinois, and those of the federal government, which protect the privacy of the worker before, during, and after termination. This includes the sealing of the worker’s personnel file, and all results from an investigation which leads to termination, unless during trial, a judge orders the file to be opened and other details brought to public attention.

    While priests in the past allowed bishops to give detailed explanations for being deprived of faculties, this is no longer the case. As soon as a priest is removed, he often hires a lawyer, and the lawyer lets the bishop know that the diocese will be sued for any and all violations of privacy laws. As I understand it, Fr. Phillips has a civil lawyer as well as canonical counsel.

    What is a bishop allowed to tell the parish, both legally according to civil law, and canonically? He is allowed to tell the parish that accusations were lodged against the pastor, that he found these allegations to be credible, and that as a result, he has removed the pastor from office. Is a parishioner unsatisfied with that answer? Too bad. Do they wish to have more details of what exactly was said or found out? Too bad. Are they demanding that the bishop explain why some witnesses exonerate the priest, while apparently the bishop believes the word of others who do not exonerate the priest? Too bad.

    As far as the bishop is concerned, it’s none of your business, because he is legally obligated to protect the priest’s privacy, and the privacy of his own investigation, unless subpoenaed by a judge to start singing. Same with the priest’s lawyer. He will not hesitate to sue the bishop, the diocese, and the Review Board, for releasing details of the investigation without the priest’s explicit consent.

    The accused priest, on the other hand, may say or write whatever he wishes. He can release whatever facts he wishes to, or even invent facts and stories which make him look good, and make the bishop look bad.

    The bishop cannot do anything to respond to the priest, regardless of how ugly it gets, and regardless of what facts the bishop has at his disposal to impeach the priest and expose his painting himself as an innocent dove, when he is not. A bishop will not sue a priest, even if the priest defames him, because it does nothing for the peace of the parish and of the Church.

    With this in mind, I caution people to avoid making demands, or expecting demands, from the bishop and the Review Board. Unless you can get the priest’s lawyer to draw up a legal release, which the priest signs, giving permission for *all facts and depositions* to come to the light of day, you should not expect the bishop or the diocese to divulge any more than they have done. And knowing the lawyers and how they work, they would never, ever give the priest permission to sign a document which allows the diocese to publish everything, even those details which truthfully impeaches the priest’s character.

  55. Mary says:

    Thank you for your very thoughtful reaction to this challenging situation. We must never lose hope. Almighty God is most worthy of our trust. His will is holy and perfect and all will come to pass as He chooses or allows. Above all, we must pray and submit ourselves to His will with joy and charity.

  56. JesusFreak84 says:

    Supposedly, Father IS retaining a lawyer http://mahoundsparadise.blogspot.com/2018/06/exclusive-text-of-fr-phillips-canon-law.html So this whole mess may yet go to Rome =-\

  57. Ranger01 says:

    The accusation was, I believe, inappropriate actions with adult men.
    The POP letter I read did not address this charge. I wish it had.
    I wish the current pastor of SJC had addressed this in his letter posted on the parish website.
    I’m in Fr Phillips corner.
    The Chicago A/B has Phillips in his crosshairs. He will not escape. The destruction of SJC parish is the A/B’s desired end state. What will its loyal parishioners do?